Three Competing Options for Acquiring Innovation

Air & Space Power Journal (ASPJ), Winter 2018

9 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2018

Date Written: December 1, 2018


The President’s 2018 National Defense Strategy warns that the Department of Defense (DoD) is losing its technological edge. This isn’t new. Under the last two administrations, the DoD has sought to regain the lead by gaining dominance in fields such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and autonomous systems. The DoD recognizes that such innovation will come not from the usual sources – government labs or the incumbent defense industrial base. Non-defense firms have the lead. Without such firms, the DoD cannot win the race. How should it engage? Four judge advocates recently published articles arguing for three options: coercion, partnerships, or competition. After dismissing the first two options, this article advocates competition via open systems architecture, a form of the platform economics revolutionizing private industry. This isn’t an esoteric legal debate: whether the DoD buys innovation effectively will determine if it is prepared for the next war.

Keywords: innovation, public-private partnerships, defense procurement, acquisitions, open systems architecture

JEL Classification: H56, H57,

Suggested Citation

Schoeni, Daniel, Three Competing Options for Acquiring Innovation (December 1, 2018). Air & Space Power Journal (ASPJ), Winter 2018, Available at SSRN:

Daniel Schoeni (Contact Author)

U.S. Air Force JAG Corps ( email )

United States

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